December 2010
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Chester and Baruk cozifying with the potted rosemary and cacti during a December snow storm.

In June,when trees are in full leaf,flowers abound and breezes pass through the permeable boundary between indoors and out,I occasionally pause to remind myself that in less than six months all will be radically transformed.  Our Technicolor world  will vanish and be replaced by black and white. My summer-self wonders how we can possibly tolerate such deprivation and all the difficulties of winter —the freezing cold,persistent darkness, layers of clothing,shoveling snow,hauling wood,and the hazardous walking and driving conditions.

On this week of longest nights,protected from the life-threatening cold by a well-insulated house,I am reminded again as I do every year at this time,the appeal of our Zone 4 winters. It is best expressed in a recently made-up word – cozification.  Cozification happens in winter when protected from cold,with a pot of soup and a good book and/or warm companionship. The verb form,cozify,can be very expressive too,as in “I’d rather stay home tonight and cozify.” (I thought I had invented “cozify” but Google indicated otherwise. It seems to be especially popular in blogs about interior decorating,as in “I still need to cozify my new living room.”)

You might dismiss the desire for cozification as a mere Christmas card cliché,but I think it goes deep into our animal imperative to seek shelter from the elements and to curl up conserving energy.  Add to that,a very modern human need for quiet rest and reflection.  Without cozification,who could bear the winter? 

For northern gardeners,winter offers us some real advantages over our counter-parts in gentler climes.  How do they maintain their enthusiasm for gardening without an annual break from their toils?  How can they plan the next season’s strategies without the blank canvas of a snow covered garden?  What incentives do mild,tropical evenings give for researching new garden theories,techniques and plant varieties?  Pity those Zone 9 and 10 gardeners with their lush winter trees full of avocados and oranges!  When the next snow storm blows in,snuggle up to the fire with your seed catalogues and cozify in good cheer!

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